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What causes truck accidents in Pittsburgh?

Accidents on the road can lead to devastating injuries and loss of life. When a passenger vehicle is involved in an accident with a truck, the results can be catastrophic. In fact, close to 10 percent of highway accident deaths involve a large truck. A large number of truck accidents are caused because of the truck itself, whereas other accidents are caused by the truck drivers.

Large trucks are dangerous in part because of their size. Commercial trucks are taller and can weigh 20 to 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle. Another issue is that these trucks have greater ground clearance than smaller vehicles. This means that low riding vehicles may slide underneath the truck trailers. Rear underride guards are supposed to prevent this from happening, however, in low-speed crashes, these guards can fail. Big trucks are also prone to rolling over and require longer stopping distances than passenger vehicles, particularly when road conditions are slippery. Things can be made worse if the brake systems are not maintained properly.

In the future, changes may be made to help prevent accidents caused by these issues. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is petitioning to make underride guards that stay in place during a crash and implement regulations to require more trucks and trailers to have these guards. A new requirement for electronic stability control will go into effect for most truck tractors in 2017, which will help reduce the number of accidents as well.

Truck accidents are not solely caused by the trucks themselves. Truck driver fatigue is a common cause of these accidents. Federal trucking regulations limit the hours a driver can spend behind the wheel. Despite these regulations, some drivers continue to work longer than they are allowed to and falsify the logbooks used to record their hours. Electronic onboard records for trucks may help prevent this from happening. With these improvements, the number of Pittsburgh truck accident fatalities may soon decrease.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "Large trucks," accessed on Jan. 18, 2016

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